Maryland Passes First Test and New Stars Emerge
Also, this Nebraska blog is going to talk about Nebraska again
A reminder that there will be no Thursday post this week because it is Thanksgiving, you animals. I will have a Top 25 out tomorrow that will be the best Top 25 released that day, I promise.
It was another exciting week for the Big Ten, which is now down to just six undefeated teams. One of those teams is Maryland, who took down then-No. 6 Baylor 79-76 to move to 6-0 on the season.
If you need a look at the results from this past week:
Reese Takes Terrapins to Top-Six Win
The Terrapins have had injury issues to start the season, with Diamond Miller and Ashley Owusu both either missing games or leaving games due to various ailments. Katie Benzan also missed the Baylor game with an illness.
And despite all of that, Maryland has won all six of its games. The first five were games the Terps should always win with varying levels of dominance. This matchup with the Bears was not that, and a loss here could prove that Maryland was once again not quite at the level of the rest of the most elite teams in the country.
Instead, it was the Terrapins who proved, while down both Benzan and Faith Masonius, that they are every bit as for real as they seemed to be on paper. It looked like it was going to be a rather lopsided win, too.
Maryland led 76-65 with 2:45 to go after a make by Ashley Owusu. The game seemed wrapped up, but then Baylor went on an 8-0 run over the next 75 seconds thanks to two Terrapin turnovers. It was 76-73 with plenty of time remaining and all the momentum was with the Bears.
That is when Maryland’s newest star made the play of the game. Sophomore Angel Reese, the former five-star prospect who missed most of her freshman season with an injury, put in a huge and-one to put the Terps up six, and they held on the rest of the way for the victory.
Owusu may still be the key cog that keeps the Maryland engine running smoothly, and she played well against Baylor with 24 points and six assists, though she shot just 9 of 23 from the field. But Reese has been the one to watch early on in the season, averaging 19.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game.
Reese finished the win over the Bears with 17 points, nine rebounds and two steals in 19 minutes of action. The other four starters played 40 minutes, 40 minutes, 40 minutes and 39 minutes. Once Reese is up to those minutes, she could be a true Player of the Year contender in the Big Ten. For now, she is just one of the most exciting young talents in the country.
I did want to also add that Maryland won this game by only letting NaLyssa Smith and Jordan Lewis beat them. The duo combined for 59 points on 26-of-43 shooting. The rest of the team combined for 17 points on 7-of-29 shooting. Naz Hillmon 50-piece in a losing effort to Ohio State sort of vibes.
Makenna Marisa is a Problem and so is Nebraska
Penn State dropped a close one on the road to Clemson for its first loss of the season, but it was yet another game that proved that the Nittany Lions have found their star.
That star is junior guard Makenna Marisa, who had 29 points, five rebounds and eight assists in the losing effort. Marisa was coming off a strong sophomore season (13.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 5.0 APG), but she has taken that to another level so far this year.
Currently, Marisa is averaging 24.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 3.0 steals per game. She is shooting 52.9 percent from the field, 50.0 percent from three on 30 attempts and 90.0 percent from the free throw line. She is looking like another player that has a chance to contend for conference player of the year, but she will likely have to carry her team to a top-half finish to get that chance.
Time for the Nebraska segment.
The Cornhuskers are now up to 5-0 and are still averaging 95.6 points per game while allowing just 50.0 per game. That is the most points for and the best scoring margin (plus-45.6) in the country.
This week, Nebraska was tested for the first time against in-state rival Creighton, and proved that it can beat a strong team even when the shots aren’t falling. The Cornhuskers beat the Bluejays 67-62 for their first win in the rivalry in six years. They did so despite shooting 32.3 percent from the field.
It was an ugly win, but it was a win nonetheless. Sam Haiby proved why she is still the main piece of this team in all facets. She shot poorly from the field (3 of 10) but got to the line for 11 free-throw attempts. She made nine of those and finished with 15 points, five rebounds, five assists, three steals and just one turnover, doing it all to help seal the victory.
The AP Top 25 will be out a day late to account for South Carolina-UConn at noon today (which you should absolutely watch), but there better at least be some votes for Nebraska after a start like this.
What to Watch
This week starts slow, and then my god does it ramp up.
No. 3 Maryland vs. No. 5 NC State, Thursday (11/25), 11 a.m. – FloHoops
Maryland has given itself a relentless non-conference schedule, and this week’s trip to the Bahamas is the core of it. It starts with a top-five matchup against the Wolfpack, a perennial contender that has already faced another top-five team, losing to No. 1 South Carolina by nine.
NC State has followed up that loss with four straight wins of 20 points or more, and it could be a high-scoring battle that could push the Terps even higher into the conversation of best team in the nation.
No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 7 Stanford, Thursday (11/25), 1:30 p.m. – FloHoops
Another top-tier matchup in the Bahamas. Indiana, like Maryland, has proven it belongs in the upper echelon early this year, but will be tested more than ever by facing off against the defending national champions.
The Cardinal have not been their usual dominant selves to start the year, falling to Texas and scrapping out a narrow victory over Gonzaga. The Hoosiers come in as the better team, but never underestimate the ability of legendary coach Tara VanDerveer to get her team up for a big game.
Northwestern vs. South Dakota, Thursday (11/25), 5:45 p.m. – TBD
Northwestern lost a nail-biter to DePaul, but has a bounce-back opportunity against another solid mid-major program in South Dakota.
It was a tough start to the season for the Coyotes, losing by two to Oklahoma, then by 31 to South Carolina, but they are back to 2-2 on the year and give the Wildcats an intriguing matchup in the Virgin Islands.
Also, this is an opportunity to watch Veronica Burton, who is quietly averaging 18.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 6.5 APG, 4.0 SPG and 1.3 BPG while shooting 51.0 percent from the field and 52.6 percent from deep. Sheesh.
No. 3 Maryland vs. No. 7 Stanford, Saturday (11/27), 3 p.m. – FloHoops
I’ve already talked about both of these teams but it’s a Top-10 matchup, you should watch it. Maryland may very well be ranked No. 2 tomorrow depending on how lopsided South Carolina-UConn is. The Terps could (and should) get some first-place votes if they are still undefeated by the time the next poll comes around.
No. 21 Ohio State vs. Cincinnati, Saturday (11/27), 6 p.m. – TBD
Ohio State is running a four-guard lineup, and that’s all that I ever wanted. I was hoping that it would include Madison Greene, but she is out for the season. Kateri Poole is a more-than-acceptable replacement.
The Buckeyes are doing fun things against lesser competition, and Taylor Mikesell has been absolutely electric in her first three games, shooting 57.1 percent from three on 21 attempts. She has 12 makes from deep, the rest of the team has 11.
Cincinnati is not a specifically difficult opponent, but it is an in-state bout that gives Ohio State more opportunity to grow. This team is looking like it will be a tough one to compete with, especially if someone other than Mikesell gets the three-ball going.
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